Saturday, June 14, 2008

Sasquatch Part 3: The Final Inebriation

Monday, the last day of Sasquatch Music Fest, dawned bright and clear like Sunday did, the sun rolling me out of my bed before I was ready yet again. Sunday night had been rough; I really thought I was going to hurl that night but managed to pass out without doing so. I felt much better Monday morning, especially after the Tequila Sunrise that we shared with our Idahoan friends. They complemented us on our traveling bar, saying it was the most extensive they had ever seen at any fest (and believe me, Nate is a fester extraordinaire.) I wasn't sure whether to be proud of that or vaguely ashamed...I can't help it if I've got great taste in the matter of spirituous beverages...

Hanging out again with our neighbors in the morning was sort of a bittersweet affair; I develop a childlike, infatuous friendship quickly at events like this, and it's always sad to know that these cool people I've only known for a few days will soon be heading their way and we ours. I often find myself wondering what their lives are like: where do they work, what are their hangouts, who do they know. It's like you become a small part of someone's life for that short period of time, and perhaps the brevity of the event allows everyone to drop their guard a bit and let people in sooner and farther than you might normally do, precisely because of the fact that you know you'll probably never see them again. Ah well. We said our farewells, exchanged phone numbers and a vague offer to maybe see each other at surferboy-dreamboat Jack Johnson's concert at the Gorge in August (we've got our tickets for that already) but who knows if that will happen. C'est la vie, that's part of the fun of it all.

It was a spectacular early afternoon, and I managed to finally get sunburned despite my best efforts while hanging out with the Seattleites and bidding a wistful farewell to the gorgeous Italiana and her tall, perfect athletic American boyfriend whom I tried my hardest to pretend wasn't there...I lay down to take a snooze but never really fell asleep. I reflected on the strangeness of time passing. There in the cool shade of the canopy, with my sweetheart lying next to me and the breeze blowing over me like a whisper, the sounds of campers packing up and the rustling of the trees, it seemed as though time slowed, like an eternity was crammed into three quarters of an hour. Yet that strangely contrasted with how the entire weekend had seemed to pass in the blink of an eye, and here we were about to go into the show for the last day of the fest and just 5 minutes ago we were leaving the house bright and early on Saturday morning.

Built to Spill, one of my favorite groups of the last few years, was the reason we got tickets for Monday and one of the main reasons I decided to go to Sasquatch this year. The bill described them as a 'jam band,' a lable which sort of fit...maybe, but certainly not in the sense of Phish (a group I can do without) or the Grateful Dead (whom I love dearly...what a long wonderful trip it was with you Jerry!) Built to Spill has a very dreamy, heavily guitar-oriented sound in which the consonant melodies play a crucial role. They are based in Boise, and are one of the originators of what has become known loosely as the 'Northwest Sound,' although with the exception of Quasi I'm very familiar with all of the artists that Wikipedia lists as being purveyors of this sound, and there are far more differences than similarities between them.

The singing is very introspective and has a tendency to take a back seat to the music at times, which could be the reason they're called a 'jam band' sometimes (to me that word has a vaguely pejorative connotation to it.) At any rate, it was a good show, and they played my favorite song of theirs, Carry the Zero, although again, I think I'd rather see this group in a smaller venue on a Friday night somewhere than in the immensity of the gorge. I think the distortion and 'wall of sound' effect is diffused somewhat in the open air, and though this is the first time I've seen them, I have a feeling that close-in reverberation would have added a great deal to their live sound.

Next came Rodrigo y Gabriela, much hyped and another of the hottest acts at Sasquatch '08, a group that was the specific reason many people came to this show. I heard an interview with them on NPR a couple of years ago and had forgotten all about them until they took the stage. They're an interesting couple: they played in a thrash metal band in Mexico City before moving to Europe to check out the scene there. They currently reside in Dublin and have a huge following worldwide. They play acoustic guitars with an intensity that can only be described as virtuosic. My favorite moment of their performance was when they did an instrumental version of Master of Puppets, the title track and my second-favorite song from my favorite Metallica LP of all time. It was blisteringly fast, absolutely perfect, and missing none of the nuance of this song despite two acoustic guitars being a radically different medium than that presented by the ultimate speed metal group ever. If R.E.M. is my generation's Beatles, then Metallica is my generation's Led Zeppelin. (Very loose and perhaps crude analogies that no doubt many a fan of any of those groups could rightfully skewer me for, but hey, it's my blog.)

Don't want to offend anyone here, but I just want to ask this question: When did Gen Y get old enough to drink, and why didn't someone raise the drinking age when that happened? First off, Saturday night during The Cure, some dumb girl barfed into a big soda cup and left it sitting there, which someone proceeded to knock over just a few feet in front of us. We left for a different spot shortly after that...Then Monday afternoon, some 20-something casanova sitting right behind us was trying to put the moves on some girls and kept blathering on and on and on and talking out his ass (drunk off his ass too) until I finally said, loudly, 'let's go sit somewhere besides right in front of Chatty Cathy here.' We moved downhill, and then he came and sat right next to us and started talking to Kristin, I don't even remember about what but it was more stupid bullshit, until I finally had to ask him to leave after he refused to take the hint. I'm glad he did; I didn't want to have to put some 22 year old moron in a headlock that afternoon, but I was getting to that point. Then there was the guy who loudly bragged about how much "honey" he had deposited into the "Honey Buckets," (the portajohns.) That was another wonderful youth moment. I wonder if I was that guy 10 or 15 years ago. I don't think so. At least I hope not...

The last act I wanted to see was Flight of the Conchords, a musical comedy duo from New Zealand. They've exploded into popularity since the release on DVD of their tv series that features their own well-written, hopelessly goofy songs in the form of parodies of 80's pop videos. Although I did recognize Jermaine Clement from the Outback Steakhouse commercial, I didn't even know who they were until after we had bought the tickets, and my friend Jeanne came over to our house one night and said 'you've got to check these guys out, they're hilarious.' I watched their show and it killed me: they're very talented, masters of sublime Kiwi understatement, and it was a great show all around. So then I found out they were playing Sasquatch, to which I already had tickets, and I knew I had to see them live.

The last two bands on the main stage that night, the Mars Volta and the Flaming Lips, while they both have a number of good songs, K and I decided we could live without seeing them, so we headed back to the shuttle and then to the camp ground. Fortunately someone had left my fleece at the main office of Wild Horse, so I was able to get that before we left, although I really would've liked to have it during The Cure, as I might've stayed for their whole set. Oh well.

That's pretty much it; a long, boring night drive from the Gorge to Portland, and work the next day. This was a good music fest, with a wide variety of bands and many different styles represented. I'll definitely consider going back again, depending on who the groups are. And I'll be back at the Gorge in August for Jack Johnson, another guy I've wanted to see for a long time. That's all folks!

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